Mathematical Genius/Paranoid Schizophrenic
Winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1994

John Forbes Nash Jr. was born in Bluefield, West Virginia in 1928. His father was an electrical engineer and his mother, a teacher. Bluefield was sort of a mining town in the Appalachians and so Nash resorted to reading to explore the outside world. He began with an encyclopedia while in elementary school, and by the time he was in high school, he was reading "Men of Mathematics" and had "proven" a very difficult mathematical (Fermat) theorem. His goal at this time was to become an engineer, like his father, albeit a chemical engineer.

Once enrolled at what is now Carnegie Mellon University, the mathematics faculty persuaded him to transfer to their department and at graduation, he was awarded both a B.S. and a M.A.. He went on to further graduate studies at Princeton and while there, he developed an interest in game theory, which would eventually lead him to the Nobel Prize. His Ph. D. thesis came from a discovery he made concerning manifolds and real algebraic varieties and was submitted for publication.

In 1951 he joined the mathematics faculty at MIT and remained there until 1959. While there, he solved complex mathematical problems that contributed to the progress of physics, computers, abstract mathematics, and our national defense. But in 1959, he began to experience "mental disturbances" and he basically remained in seclusion for the next 30 years. He was, in fact, suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. During this time, he was in and out of institutions, he wandered streets almost as a vagrant, and described his illness as if,

all of Boston were behaving strangely towards me...I started to see crypto-communists everywhere...I started to think I was a man of great religious importance, and to hear voices all the time...the delirium was like a dream from which I seemed never to awake..
The disease finally went into remission in 1974 and Nash returned to producing mathematical work of the highest caliber. In 1994, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for work he had actually done some 30 plus years before, and his contributions were critiqued as being "the most important idea in noncooperative game theory...whether analyzing election strategies, or causes of war."

In 1999, Sylvia Nasar published a biography of John Nash entitled, "A Beautiful Mind". She covers his stays in mental hospitals until remission at age 61, and has the support and contributions of his colleagues at Princeton and his friends as well.

Editor's note: John Nash died in a car crash with his wife on May 23, 2015.
What seems to be of interest here is that we have someone who a) worked for part of the shadow government, b) really did change the world, c) was quite bisexual, d) probably had some good insights into religion and philosophy along with everything else, e) wanted more than anything else to become a world citizen (to evade ever dealing with the Department of Defense again)....and he's paranoid?

Why bother? He already is what most paranoids wish were true! My apologies for being flip on a human tragedy and all, I really do wish him and his the very best...but it does underline the difference between "paranoia" (as in being a little edgy and weird) and paranoia (as in being unable to deal with getting from breakfast to lunch because the squirrels are relaying messages from Neptune).

He did have full blown schizophrenia, even despite the recovery and the strange occupational and sexual background.

For pete's sake he used to walk around with the Burger King crown on his head, and rejected a job from the University of Chicago because the penguins were about to make him the King of Antartica.

It's all in the book.

John Nash (1893 - 1977) Artist

John Nash was one of the finest British artists of the early twentieth century, particularly noted for his landscapes and battle scenes. His brother Paul Nash was also a distinguished painter, however their styles are clearly distinct. Unlike his brother whose landscapes had an impressionistic abstraction to them, John was far more of a realist, painting detailed canvases with rich blocks of colour in an almost cartoonish style; John Nash typically worked from memory in his war paintings, giving them an emotional richness and resonance above actual photographic realism.

John had no formal training, but was encouraged to paint by his brother. He produced idyllic rural scenes of Britain, such as The Canal Bridge, Sydney Gardens (1925) and Harvesting (1946). But he also served as an official War Artist in World War I and World War II. He fought with the First Artist Rifles in World War I, and his painting Over The Top (1918) commemorates an incident where his unit of eighty men was ordered into no man's land, and only Nash and eleven others returned. The painting shows soldiers leaving the trench at Marcoing near Cambrai, and clambering onto the bare white ground, many falling before they've even left. Although there is no blood save for the red clay of the trenches, the image of the hunched-over soldiers determinedly trudging towards their death sums up the futility of the forward attack.

Between the wars Nash taught art in Oxford and in London at the Royal College of Art. He was elected to the Royal Academy in 1951, and went on to receive a CBE. As well as painting, he produced many prints, using the techniques of wood engraving and lithography.


Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.